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Re: May I publish a Windows Installer for GNU Emacs?

From: Stephen J. Turnbull
Subject: Re: May I publish a Windows Installer for GNU Emacs?
Date: Fri, 19 Sep 2003 22:40:51 +0900
User-agent: Gnus/5.1001 (Gnus v5.10.1) XEmacs/21.4 (Portable Code, linux)

>>>>> "os" == Oliver Scholz <address@hidden> writes:

    os> The GPL FAQ seems to see two orthogonal issues here.  I
    os> believe, from its point of view every person is automatically
    os> granted with the rights covered by the GPL, provided, of
    os> course, that a person can get hold of a copy.

That's what clause 0 of the GPL says.  Whether it would stand up in
court in case of theft is another matter.

    os> The entitlement happens for everybody as soon as the software
    os> is released.  Stealing is a separate issue, which does not
    os> affect the copyright aspect.

That's right, for parts of the work already GPLed.

However, if there is any proprietary (ie, not specifically licensed
under the GPL) code included, then it is _not_ covered by the GPL.  As
long as you have not distributed that code, you retain copyright, ie,
all rights, by default.  Since you haven't distributed, you have done
nothing to require that your code be GPLed, even if you have accepted
the GPL itself (eg, by past redistribution of verbatim copies).  So
you can sue the thief under copyright law, and you can reclaim copies
from third parties.

I think this preserves all the rights to "work-in-progress" that David
is worried about.

    os> I wonder whether that particular case is different again. I
    os> wonder whether your code actually _can_ be covered by the GPL,
    os> before you deliver it to anybody.

Yes, it can.  See clause 0.  This could be useful: suppose you get hit
by a train.  Your heirs sell your notebooks _but not the copyrights_
to a library, and now anyone who reads them may copy and publish
because it's under the GPL.  Very hypothetical, of course.

    os> Maybe I will ask my flat mate.

Please do.  :-)

Institute of Policy and Planning Sciences     http://turnbull.sk.tsukuba.ac.jp
University of Tsukuba                    Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
               Ask not how you can "do" free software business;
              ask what your business can "do for" free software.

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